Women in Family Business

Women in Family Business is a global initiative that offers an opportunity to women from all over the world.

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Latest Episodes

Christina Wing: The Art of Having Difficult Conversations in the Family Business

Christina Wing: The Art of Having Difficult Conversations in the Family Business

The art of communication is the glue that holds family businesses together, yet it's often the toughest nut to crack. Why do families in business dance around the conversations that matter most? Conflict, relationships, illness - these topics are the bedrock of our family dynamics but are often shrouded in silence. This silence can ripple through generations, affecting everything from who holds the reins to how decisions are made.

Enter the world of open dialogue, where honesty and a united front can transform uncomfortable chats into pivotal moments of growth. But how do we get there? The path might be smoother than we think, built on the straightforward principles of honesty and the collective pursuit of a brighter future.

On this episode we are joined by Christina Wing, the founder of Wingspan Legacy Partners, a seasoned faculty member at Harvard Business School, and a business owner herself. Christina unlocks the transformative power of tackling tough conversations head-on in family businesses. From the nuanced role of timing in broaching sensitive issues to the enlightening impact of the COVID lockdowns on our understanding of mental health and the need to set personal boundaries, Christina sheds light on the conversations that can redefine the future of family enterprises.

Samira Zakour: Flexible Mindsets and the Development of Leadership in a New Era

Samira Zakour: Flexible Mindsets and the Development of Leadership in a New Era

Passion, vision, and leadership play critical roles in determining the success or failure of every family business. However, while passion and vision remain constant sources of inspiration across generations, leadership styles vary and yield diverse results.

Often a product of their era, culture, and economic environment, successful business leaders also possess strong strategic compasses that enable them to balance current priorities with long-term objectives. In today’s business landscape, that means maintaining a global perspective while adapting to local contexts – and successful leaders must find the courage to navigate and take decisive action in both environments.

Constant shifts, geopolitical instability, technological disruptions, and economic uncertainty will shape leadership in the 21st century. The next generation of leaders will be defined by their ability to chart a course through turbulent periods and their readiness to adapt to the growing drivers of significant global change.

Meghan Juday and Marina Vaughan Spitzy: How Women in Power Balance Bias with Opportunity

Meghan Juday and Marina Vaughan Spitzy: How Women in Power Balance Bias with Opportunity

Interview with Meghan Juday, Chair of Ideal Industries Inc., governance advisor, and founder of The Lodis Forum, and Marina Vaughan Spitzy, founder of legacy planning firm, Tecolote Advisory, and fifth-generation family business stakeholder

Whether gender bias exists within the world’s family enterprises has been unequivocally answered. 

Yet, despite the gender barriers they face – or possibly because of them – women are amplifying their voices and advocating for themselves within their family enterprises and the male-dominated boardrooms of businesses globally. Many women are actively demanding the change they want to see, and the resources they need to excel, as they increasingly recognise and understand the value they bring to every organisation and, maybe most especially, the family business.

In this episode, Meghan Juday, Chair of Ideal Industries Inc., governance advisor, and founder of The Lodis Forum, and Marina Vaughan Spitzy, founder of legacy planning firm, Tecolote Advisory, and fifth-generation family business stakeholder, and Ramia El Agamy, Co-Founder of WiFB, discuss the results of their recent study entitled ‘Women in Power’ for which they interviewed near a dozen women who told their stories of bias and success in the family enterprise. In this episode, we discuss the emotional and professional challenges women confront when first taking on a leadership role in their family firms, as well as the strategies that can help empower them. We also talk about how the boardroom has become the final frontier of diversity in many organisations and emphasise the importance of continuing the conversation surrounding workplace bias for everyone in a family business, regardless of gender.

Eva Fischer Hansen: Parting Ways with the Family Business

Eva Fischer Hansen: Parting Ways with the Family Business

Interview with Eva Fischer Hansen, Family Business Adviser and Founder of Balance2Perform

The reasons families choose to sell their businesses vary, but the subsequent, often distressing, process of moving on and navigating the unknown is an experience every former family business owner will inevitability face. For Eva Fischer Hansen, the strain of selling her family’s firm was so great that it left her incapacitated and in debilitating pain. 

Eva hadn’t originally intended to join Brunata, her family’s intelligent energy metering solutions enterprise, but she found herself stepping into a key leadership role to save the business after her father’s sudden departure. Serving as board chair, Eva helped her family turn the firm around and oversaw its successful sale, but the mental and physical toll had a profound effect on her well-being. After a period of recovery and reflection, Eva established her own consulting business to help other family-owned companies confront the unique challenges they face while staying true to their core values. She has since also founded Balance2Perform, a school for holistic body therapy that places great emphasis on psychological strength and mental well-being.

In this episode, Eva Fischer Hansen shares the personal and professional hurdles she overcame to safeguard the future of her family’s business, even after the decision to sell had been finalised. She also talks about the values instilled by her father that continue to guide her business decisions, and emphasises how focusing on a family member's shortcomings rather than their role within the family unit may indicate that it is time to sell the business.

Haleema Al Owais: Turning Adversity into Opportunity

Haleema Al Owais: Turning Adversity into Opportunity

In 2007, a phone call changed Haleema Al Owais’ life in an instant. The young mother of a toddler had just started a new position in her burgeoning television management career when she learned her father, Humaid bin Ali Al Owais, had unexpectedly passed away. Pressing through her shock and grief, Haleema resigned from her job and, along with her brother, Ali, took on her father’s role in the family’s investment business. Their swift actions prevented the firm from being forced to operate without dedicated family leadership.

Haleema not only managed the company’s fledgling property development business but also successfully turned it into a UAE success story, all while simultaneously establishing herself as a prominent entrepreneur in the region. However, Haleema’s journey was far from smooth. Unafraid of breaking convention, she often directly confronted those who questioned her credibility in the male-dominated construction sector. Ultimately, Haleema realised that building self-worth is what truly matters the most.

In this episode, Haleema Al Owais, CEO of Sultan bin Ali Al Owais Real Estate, talks about the challenges she faced while navigating the UAE’s construction sector at just 23 years old. She shares valuable lessons she learned through adversity and the pivotal steps she took after assuming her leadership position — including opening a family construction firm to mitigate the effects of gender discrimination in the industry. She also discusses the significance of family business stewardship as well as the roles hard work and humility play in achieving long-term success, and explains why she firmly believes that prosperity in a family business should not lead to a change in core values.

Dr. Yasmina Fechkeur: Leading with Authenticity

Dr. Yasmina Fechkeur: Leading with Authenticity

Dr. Yasmina Fechkeur not only ascended through cultural barriers to become a leader in her family’s energy services business, she also fought to bring new perspectives to the sectors she worked in with her family and as an entrepreneur. Working alongside her three brothers, and with the support of her parents, Yasmina played a pivotal role in upgrading her family firm’s infrastructure and communication practices. This led to increased growth opportunities and streamlined governance practices for the business and its partners.

 In this episode, Dr. Yasmina Fechkeur, shareholder of the integrated logistics solutions company for Algeria’s energy sector, RedMed Group, and founder/CEO of medical analysis firm Fechkeur Laboratory, talks about the challenges she faced in her family business' industry, and how friction and conflict often fuelled the innovation that she feels is essential in every business. She discusses the importance of adaptability in today’s changing business and environmental landscapes, and highlights how building self-confidence is essential in fostering effective and innovative leadership.

Muna Al Gurg: Innovation in Family Governance and Business

Muna Al Gurg: Innovation in Family Governance and Business

Muna Al Gurg has been instrumental in shaping innovative approaches in her family’s firm.She fondly remembers the stories her father, and company founder, Easa Saleh Al Gurg, told her about navigating the business through Dubai’s early development period in the 70s and 80s. Those experiences helped reinforce Muna’s belief that the ability to adapt in ever-shifting commercial landscapes lies at the core of most family enterprises – especially in the MENA region, with its history of frequent and swift transformations. However, she also stresses the importance of establishing a solid governance foundation to support the critical decision-making process of current and future family business leaders. Muna credits her father’s time as a post office clerk — a position he was fiercely proud of — as a grounding influence in the family business, while also showing what can be accomplished through unwavering hard work and ambition.

In this episode, Muna Al Gurg, who is now Vice Chair and Director of Retail for the Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group, one of the UAE’s leading diversified conglomerates with a portfolio of over 30 companies, talks about the innovative mindset she believes has always been essential for family businesses to thrive, the new opportunities that exist for firms willing to challenge traditional models, and the ‘three Ps’ that she believes should be the ethos of every family business: Profitability, People, and Purpose.

Marco Ideas Unlimited: Generational Shifts and Entrepreneurial DNA

Marco Ideas Unlimited: Generational Shifts and Entrepreneurial DNA

An increasing number of women are stepping into key leadership roles in their family enterprises. Following in the footsteps of their business-founding mothers, however, remains much less common. This was especially true in the mid-1980s when Nancy Gudekunst answered the call to help her mother, Margaret Custer Ford, with the successful promotional products company she had started in 1959 — a time when female entrepreneurs were unusual. Nancy joined the family business after she had already built a thriving company of her own and soon discovered that she not only had to navigate the challenges associated with being the “boss's daughter”, but also manage the sometimes challenging dynamic of working alongside a parent who shared the same entrepreneurial passion.

In this episode, Nancy Gudekunst, President of promotional product speciality company Marco Ideas Unlimited, discusses her unique journey into leadership within the business her mother founded. She delves into the role her own entrepreneurial background played in modernising the operation and managing professional relationships. Nancy also reflects on the challenges of guiding the company through periods of economic uncertainty and the intricacies that arose as the third generation of the family became involved in the business.

Rotana – Preparing for the Unexpected

Rotana – Preparing for the Unexpected

The knowledge that we will inevitably face circumstances beyond our control is part of being a business owner. The steep changes caused by the recent global pandemic showed the capacity of whole industries to pivot at seemingly a moment’s notice. The hospitality sector is particularly sensitive to these global ebbs and flows. Few nations know that better than the UAE, whose hotel industry has been significantly reshaped by the region’s rapid growth over the past 30 years. For Shaikha Al Nowais, Vice President of Owner Relationship Management at leading hotel management company, Rotana, successfully addressing her industry’s transformation has meant investing in people and drawing on the powerful internal constants of attitude, approach, and perseverance.

In this episode, Shaikha discusses how investing in the development of people leads to dedication, commitment and, ultimately, success. Shaikha also details the many important lessons she learned from her father, company co-founder, Nasser Al Nowais, and how he helped shape her strength and conviction, especially when facing adversity. Shaikha believes that accessibility and engagement are key to generating the new ideas that businesses need to confront the inevitability of change.

Bio of Women in Family Business

Women in Family Business (WIFB) is a global initiative dedicated to providing a platform for women worldwide to exchange insights and experiences in the realm of family enterprise. This initiative aims to foster connections among women in the family business, creating a robust community where knowledge and support can thrive.

At WIFB, women are encouraged to share their valuable perspectives, showcasing the unique challenges and triumphs they encounter within the context of family business. Through this platform, women entrepreneurs, executives, and family members involved in businesses gain an opportunity to connect with their peers, exchange ideas, and learn from one another's experiences.

The WIFB community is committed to nurturing a supportive environment and empowering women to navigate the complexities of family businesses with confidence. By facilitating conversations and fostering connections, WIFB strives to enhance collaboration and promote the growth and success of women in family businesses worldwide.

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